Very impressed with the ship overall. Loved the embarkation process. They have the boarding kiosks ondeck and had multiple entries onto the ship so there were no long lines. They did similar process for debarkation. We just walked right off!! So easy.
We had Balcony cabin 9720. Had everything you needed. Comfortable bed, nice pillows a duvet. I think the closet and drawer space would be a little tight for a 7-night cruise - especially if you were bringing any formal wear. The bathroom setup was the best I had seen on a cruise. The toilet and shower were on opposite sides of the bathroom so if needed, two people could be in there at once. The toilet also has a sliding privacy door. Similar door on the shower which had ample space (I am 6' 4"). I didn't miss the curtain that most other cruise ship showes have. The ones that tend to stick to you like a burrito shell.
Wasn't sure about the "freestyle cruising" approach initially, but I liked it. Would like to take a longer cruise to try more restaurants. We went to Cagney's (had made rerservations online pre-cruise) and it was a great meal. Terrific smoked salmon appetizer and the oysters rockefeller were very good. And the ribeye very delicious. The onboard reservation process looks easy. They had TV screens scattered about the decks so you could see what restaurants were filling up. They also has same info on the TV in your cabin. Went to Versailles for first day lunch and had a great meal. Pasta Bolognese amd Philly Chese Steak. It was nice to have a dining room open on embarkation. That has not been the case on Carnival. Also ate in Versailles for the second night's dinner and had a good meal. Ceasar salad was very nice and crispy - but missing anchovies. Could have asked for them I guess, but since I also had to ask for fresh ground pepper (and that took about 5 minutes), I decided to go without. Had a decent "latin" style sirloin steak. Pretty good seasoning - sort of like a pesto rub. Surprisingly, the worst part of each meal was the potato dishes. French fries at lunch weren't crisp or hot. Potato Gratin at Cagney's were mushy and flavorless. Wedges at Versailles dinner were dry with no seasoning.
Second city comedy shows were very funny. Didn't get to see the other regular shows but people were raving about Elements.
Pool area has some great seating areas. There is also a quiet area (much like Carnival's Serenity) where they have deck chairs and adults-only hot tub.
We did an onboard Pub Crawl event that was alot of fun. We went to 5 bars, had a different drink at each and played some games. The final stop was by the pool deck where they had everyone play a twist on "Simon Says". Last man standing got something - maybe a t-shirt. I wasn't the last person standing.
The ship has alot of music venues. There are two piano players, a guitairist and four other live bands that play at various times and bars. There was a trio in the Atrium that were very good. And the live band they had on the final night for the 70's disco theme was amazing. They were playing earlier in the same lounge with only us and about 5 other people - and played some incredible rock and rolll. The lead guitarist was amazing, able to coax alot of feedback from his Fender Stratocaster. Really talented.
The main pool area is ill-conceived. The two slides take up alot of deck space and the pool is very small. The slides also aren't meant for adult use. Every adult we saw try to use them couldn't make it all the way down without "scooting". Gave us a few laughs. But for something that takes up that much space, it didn't seem to have enough "fun value".
This cruise ship also had a much larger focus on alcohol consumption than any other I have been on. The cruise director said during his talks, "Drink Heavily". Now I realize that the cruise ships make a lot of revenue from the drinks and it is what keeps cruising inexpensive. But with past and recent concerns about passenger safety, it is irresponsible for a ship's officer to be making a statement like that. At the same time in your cabin, they have a video telling you not to sit on a balcony handrail because you might fall off.
Will I go on another NCL cruise? Yes. Definitely. I had a great time and look forward to trying a long cruise on a different ship. The Star is leaving Tampa in a few weeks, and I think the Dawn is replacing her. So maybe I will look to see what deals come through next year.